Originally published in SLAM 84

The 6th Man: “What the #$%@???!!!????” I think it’s safe to say that’s something close to the reaction many of you had when you grabbed this issue off the newsstand or out of your mailbox. Allen Iverson in a suit? What in the name of Awvee Storey is going on here? Suits? This is the former League MVP and we’re talking ’bout suits? What is this, anyway, GQ?

And the natural follow-up question: “Have you guys lost your minds???”

Well yeah, probably. But that doesn’t have anything to do with this cover. Don’t worry, this won’t become a regular occurrence—we’re not turning into Hoop—but when we were kicking around concepts of how to flip an AI shoot a lil’ bit different, the suit was the hottest idea. I mean, Tim Duncan in a suit would have been boring. (No offense, Tim.) But AI? That’s out there—dude actually had to get one made. But it made sense to us, at least. After all, Allen Iverson blinged (metaphorically, anyway) during a decidedly shine-free Olympics, reported to camp with an open mind and a new dedication, and he will be 30-plus by the end of the season. Image, flipped. For him and us, I guess. We had to keep the ice grill, though. And we couldn’t convince him to take his hat off. Oh well—you still recognized him, right?

The cover isn’t the only change you’ll find in this issue. Rather than a wholesale remix, we’re tweaking a little at a time. This issue marks the debut of a new section, “The City Game,” in which we’ll focus on the b-ball life and history of a different city each month. We start, of course, with the Mecca, NYC. Miami and Denver are in the works, and I’m sure we’ll get to your town in due time. Oh yeah, I also changed my signature, after 40-odd issues with the same one. But I’m sure you would have noticed that anyway.


Russ Bengtson

P.S. Thank God the season is finally rolling. We missed this game.

Slam 84 AI